Statins news: Do statins increase your risk of dementia? – Latest study

Statins news: Do statins increase your risk of dementia? – Latest study

20/11/2019

Statins are a vital medication for people suffering from high low-density lipoprotein (LDL), a dangerous type of cholesterol. They target production of the chemical in the liver, lowering levels which could over time cause atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Some people experience memory loss as a potential side effect of Statins, and high cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of dementia.

Do statins increase dementia risks?

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, medical evidence suggests there is a link between high cholesterol during mid-life and development of dementia.

However, a recent collaborative study by the University of New South Wales and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research found statins do not come with this risk.

The six-year study of 1,000 elderly individuals published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found no negative impact from the medication.

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They also found statins had potential protective effects in people who are at risk of the degenerative disease.

Researchers concluded statins protect against memory decline in at-risk groups.

The protective effects were visible in those with heart disease or diabetes, known risk factors for dementia.

In these people, statins slowed cognitive decline compared to those who did not take the medication.

Professor Katherine Samaras, Head of the Clinical Obesity, Nutrition and Adipose Biology lab at the Garvan Institute, said statins help sustain function by supporting a “healthy metabolism”.

She said: “Our findings demonstrate how crucial a healthy metabolism is to brain function, and how therapies can modulate this to promote healthy ageing.”

Professor Samaras added the findings would help people feel more “confident” about taking the medication.

She said: “We carried out the most comprehensive analysis of cognition in elderly statin users to date, and found no results to support that cholesterol-lowering statins cause memory impairment.”

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“Many factors can contribute to the cognitive symptoms that isolated case reports describe.

“What we’ve come away with from this study is a reassurance for consumers to feel more confident about their statin prescription.”

While the study provides reassuring evidence for people taking statins, one of the authors said it should not be considered conclusive.

Senior author Professor Perminder Sachdev, Co-Director of CHeBA, said the evidence is “mounting”, however, that statins are beneficial for brain health.

He said: “The Sydney Memory and Ageing study is now in its 14th year and has permitted us to ask many important questions in relation to the brain health of the elderly.

“In this study, our data reassuringly suggests that the use of statins to lower cholesterol levels is not likely to adversely affect memory function.

“Since it is an observational study, the findings should not be considered conclusive.

“However, the evidence is mounting that statins are safe in relation to brain health and this concern should not preclude their use in individuals who are likely to benefit from lower cholesterol levels.”

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